A study, “Meta-analysis: Effect of Dietary Counseling for Weight Loss,” published in the Annals of Internal Medicine took a look at the use of dietary counselors as a weight loss tool, and what effect the counselors had on participant weight loss.
The study analyzed 46 trials that made use of dietary counselors. The number of participants in these trials was 11,853 – 5,467 who were not involved in any formal weight loss programs, and 6,386 who were active participants in a program.
The study found that over the course, of the year, those who participated in organized weight loss programs including dietary counseling lost, on average, six percent of their body weight over the course of one year. The study also revealed that weight loss programs with more frequent meetings and diets with lower calorie intake resulted in the greatest weight loss among participants over time.
Dietary counselors are either dietitians or nutritionists. Dietitians are registered and monitored by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and must meet the requirements and pass the tests. Nutritionists are health specialists that vary in expertise and education level, and have no governing body to certify or verify their credentials or expertise.
The benefits of the dietary counseling in the studies did diminish over time. While the participants lost six percent of their weight while receiving dietary counseling over the year, the results were not permanent. At the three-year mark, the participants had only kept off half the weight they lost (three percent of their original weight). At the five-year mark, participants had regained their weight completely.
According to Science Daily, “Michael L. Dansinger, MD, MS, one of the study authors and a physician at Tufts-New England Medical Center’s Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. “This study shows that lifestyle changes need to be for the long-term.””
If you’re trying to lose weight, dietary counselors can give you a big advantage to dropping unwanted pounds. Meeting more frequently with your counselor will increase your weight loss even more. However, you have to commit yourself to the diet your counselor lays out, not just for the time you’re seeing them, but forever. If you can’t keep yourself on track, you should consider long-term maintenance visits to the dietary counselor to keep the weight off.
FitSugar: Dietitian vs. Nutritionist
ScienceDaily: Dietary Counseling Results in Weight Loss Of Approximately Six Percent of Body Weight After One Year
American College of Physicians (2007, July 4). Dietary Counseling Results In Weight Loss Of Approximately Six Percent Of Body Weight After One Year